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Unveiling Inner Heroism: A Conversation with the Director of “Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon”



The Mysterious Superhero: That’s the protagonist of ‘Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon.’ After spending 12 years in a mental institution, the girl Mona Lisa, whose whereabouts before that remain unknown, raises questions about her true identity and why she possesses the ability to control others. Unlike many superhero films that delve into a character’s backstory and world-saving adventures, this film keeps its secrets. It doesn’t set the stage for global heroics. Instead, it’s all about how Chon Jong-so embodies her struggle to survive with gripping intensity, driving the film forward with unwavering determination.

Without a doubt, the heart of this film revolves around a central question: What does it require for a lone individual, lacking a home and support, to endure in a relentless world? Against the backdrop of the bustling and tumultuous New Orleans, Mona Lisa embarks on a journey to discover her own sense of belonging, while connecting with others who share her determination to live life to the fullest. Mona Lisa, rescued by a single mother and stripper named Bonnie, forges a profound bond with Bonnie’s son, Charlie, as they both navigate a world where finding their place is an ongoing challenge.

The director of this film, Ana Lily Amirpour, aims to vividly depict the resilient survival of marginalized outsiders in the real world, even while borrowing from a fantastical setting. In this portrayal, there are moments of intense music, dazzling neon lights, and unexpected acts of simple kindness from people one encounters. Surrounded by such elements, Mona Lisa confronts the world on her own. NiEW spoke to Director Amirpour, who has brought this energetic new work to fruition.

Trailer for “Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon”

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– What inspired the concept that the protagonist, a young girl named Mona Lisa, possesses the power to manipulate others?

Amiripour: I guess you could call it a “superhero born in a dumpster,” and the idea was to create a hero out of nothing at first. We just decided to set the story in New Orleans and started building the story from there.

Then the image of her in the opening scene came to mind. Thinking about what abilities she would have was a lot of fun in sculpting my own superhero. I think most people think about the abilities they would like to have, but I finally settled on the ability to manipulate others. Because with that ability, she can face any opponent without fear. She can go for dangerous things on her own. I think that is absolute freedom.

Superheroes are often active in the world and in space, but I don’t think that is something that one person can face alone. Humans are just trying to do their best just to survive in this world.

Ana Lili Amiripour / Photo: Sven Baenziger
Ana Lili Amiripour is an Iranian-American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Her feature debut, “The Vampire: The Girl with the Cruel Fangs” (2014), premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and made a splash, and her second film, “Madtown” (2016), premiered at the Venice International Film Festival and won the “Special Jury Prize.” On November 17, 2023, her latest film, ” Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon” will be released in Japan on November 17, 2023.

– What specific attributes of the actress in the lead role, Jung Jong-so, made her an ideal match for the character of Mona Lisa?

Amiripour: She can be everything. In that respect, she was really the Mona Lisa herself. At any given moment, she could be a child, a monster, someone’s friend, or a sister. She can be cute or sexy.

Mona Lisa changed her appearance as the film progressed, didn’t she? When she first appeared, she was like a beast, but then she becomes like a newly born human being. Then she cleans her body, cuts her hair, and sometimes wears a wig. They keep changing their appearance like a chameleon or a transformer.

Mona Lisa played by Jung Soo Jung / “Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon” scene © Institution of Production, LLC

Amiripour: That is because Jung Soo herself possesses those elements. She has a mysterious charisma that we didn’t want to control. We just wanted to have her stand in front of the camera and capture it. Her presence was like magic.

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon” poster © Institution of Production, LLC
Synopsis: Mona Lisa (Jung Soo Jung) has been isolated in a mental hospital for 12 years. One night under a red full moon, she suddenly awakens with a special ability to control others. Seeking freedom and adventure, she escapes from the institution and ends up in New Orleans, a city of excitement and pleasure with psychedelic music. There, Mona Lisa meets a group of people who are too wacky for her own good, and she begins to exhibit her special powers.



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